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Old 11-06-2008, 08:43 PM   #1
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Question new planted tanks, some questions for you'all...

When students at my school did an ecology experiment (a mini bio-dome) there were many fish "left over". I didn't like the situation so I stepped up and quickly set up a 10 gal and a 5 gal tank using spring water, and Flourite substrate.

The 10 gal has become a nice, peaceful little community with 7 guppies, 2 tetra, 2 goldfish, and a betta (female), also there are about 7 snails.

The 5 gal has 4 goldfish and a betta (female), and about 5 snails. This was to be the betta tank but the females didn't get along. I may add a divider later and make it a betta tank anyway.

In both tanks, I was careful to leave swimming channels and sheltered channels for active swimmers, but I also planted a lot of aquatic plants. There are lots of places for everyone to hide, eat, and in the betta's case, lurk. There are some plants that run up to the surface and then lay along it. There are lots of plants. I put in two compact flourescents in the 10 gal, and one in the 5 gal, which I got from the LFS.

It has been going for about three weeks and I have no nitrates, and no ammonia. I have been adding bio-filter additives on the intake side of the filter element. I have not tested pH, or nitrites, or CO2.

The snails have been eating some plants. In the 5 gal tank, one of the frilly long plants got deforested--I don't know how I didn't see it happening. I have been adding some Hydrodictyon algae ("water net") because it is very cool looking, but the snails ate all of that.

1. Do I need fewer snails? What do snails eat?
2. Should I assume that the plants are taking care of the nitrogen balance and the "bio-filter" is coming along slowly?
3. Will the plants serve as a "buffer" for nitrogen chemistry?
4. How do I know if I need to add CO2? Is there a simple way to judge that without getting complicated?
5. Should I add some tabs or partial tabs to the Flourite around the plantings?
6. Is it OK to add Hydrodictyon? It grows quickly when not grazed, but is easy to remove if necessary. My research says it is harmless, non-toxic, etc.
7. Should I be asking any other questions?

Thanks for the responses!
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Old 11-06-2008, 10:02 PM   #2
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First of all, welcome to AA. This is a great site to learn about fish keeping.

To answer your questions:
1. Snails eat decaying matter, some will eat live plants. Depending on what kind of snails you have, they can become pests & might need to be removed.
2. If all your plants are healthy, and you have enough plants and enough light, it is possible to undergo a "silent cycle". The plants will use up all the ammonia & you never see any ammonia or nitrite spikes. To be safe, however, you do need to check your parameters to be sure.
3. see 2.
4. You don't need CO2 injection with the light you have (I assume the CF's are the usual 13 - 25 W ones).
5. You don't need any fertilizers at this point. In a low tech tank, only fertilize if plants show signs of deficiency.
6. I am not sure what you would achieve with the addition of algae ....

7. The most important question to ask:
Do you have plans for the goldfish?
What kind of goldfish you have? The 5 gal is too small for any goldfish. It is good for maybe the betta & 1 or 2 snails. The 10 will do fine with your current occupants without the goldfish ...
I would suggest finding a pond for all the goldfish you have. <BTW Goldfish, esp. single tailed varieties, will eat most plants. It is tricky to keep golds & plants without a pond .... Your devoured plants are likely the work of your goldies!>
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Old 11-07-2008, 07:47 PM   #3
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To answer your questions:
4. You don't need CO2 injection with the light you have (I assume the CF's are the usual 13 - 25 W ones).
5. You don't need any fertilizers at this point. In a low tech tank, only fertilize if plants show signs of deficiency.
6. I am not sure what you would achieve with the addition of algae ....
7. The most important question to ask:
Do you have plans for the goldfish?

Hello and thanks for the response...
a. The CFs are 20 W each. Help me out here, what is a low-tech tank??
b. The algae has some advantages: it is very cool looking, are easily managed, they are plants, and they can be put/go anywhere without requiring planting space, etc.
c. I don't know what is next for the goldfish. I have just been concerned about getting them settled and happy. I may move some fish between the two tanks to make better use of space, but I may also press a 20 gal tank into service.

Thanks again.
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Old 11-07-2008, 08:18 PM   #4
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Welcome to AA

a: 2x 20w bulbs on the 10G should be OK, in my tank its the limit as algae grows
b:Algae is much simpler than plants, it can suffocate plants, stealing light and nutrients from them and if left alone in poor conditions or with fluctuations can wipe out the plants.
c: For goldfish the recommended space is 10gallons per goldfish. Well actually 15g for the 1st then 10g for every addition. They are dirty/messy fish. zyou can get away with small ones for awhile in smaller tanks but once they get to a decent size they should go to a pond IMO or a large tank
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Old 11-07-2008, 10:37 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ElvisMinnow View Post
a. The CFs are 20 W each. Help me out here, what is a low-tech tank??
A low tech planted tank is one that has low to medium light and no artificial CO2 injection. This is what you have set up so far.

Although people cultivate soft green algae in fish tank, I am not sure how well that would work in a planted tank. Lower order plants like algae have different requirements than higher plants, and conditions that favors one tend to not favor the other. Most people here aim to make conditions favorable for the higher plants & thus eliminating algae. it might be interesting to experiment to see if you can actually find a balance so both your plants & desirable algae can thrive, yet not be overran by nuisance algae.
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